Thursday, January 22, 2015

European Championships 2015: Men and Ladies preview


There is no doubt about the men's competition that Javier Fernandez is the favourite to get his third straight European title. Let alone the fact that his programs are usually worth a lot of points because of the difficult technical content, he arrives in Stockholm as the most experienced out of the top contenders, and therefore the most likely to stay focused under pressure. That has to be said that the past has proved that the Spanish is quite an emotional skater and could alternate disasters to triumphs. 

Competition for him will come from the 19 years old Russian national champion Maxim Kovtun, who has been the only one to win both grand prixs, but then faltered during the final. He certainly has the potential to dominate in Europe; he attempts a total of five quads between short and free skate and there is a lot more to his skating than jumps: nice speed and flow, good transitions and solid interpretation skills. However, he often loses connection with his program and the elements he plans, affecting negativily his scores. 
Also coming from Russia and also fighting for a medal finish is Sergei Voronov. 27 years old, he has started to get his first important results only in the last couple of years. He is the 2014 European silver medalist and the 2014 grand prix final medalist.  He has dramatically improved skating skills wise and has been so consistent lately that there might be a chance for him to even outskate his younger compatriot Kovtun in Stockholm, despite a slightly more modest technical content.


In the ladies competition a Russian sweep is highly expected. The battle between Elena Radionova at her first Europeans and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva will be one of the most interesting episodes of these Championships. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is in a winning streak: she won an incredible number of competitions since the beginning of the season, proving that she has definetly overcome the difficult condition she was in last year. She has been incredibly consistent since the very first competition she attended and she looks unstoppable. 

The only one who has been able to "stop" her is Elena Radionova, who came in second at the grand prix final behind Tuktamisheva, but won the dreaded Russian nationals ahead of her. Radionova, despite being only 15,  she competes as focused as a true veteran. She has a small edge on Tuktamisheva as far as both tehnique (jumps and spins) and components are concerned. Recently there has been statements from Mishin, Tuktamisheva's coach, that she might actually attempt one or more triple axels at European championships. As always, adding a risky element in figure skating could "make you or break you", but it is sure that if she nails it, no one will take her the gold medal away.

As it is quite predictable that either Tuktamisheva or Radionova will get first and second place, it would be obvious to think that the third Russian girl nominated for European Championships Anna Pogorilaya will conquer her first bronze medal. Even though she has struggled throughout the entire season, she won't probabibly any trouble o get to that result because there are not other competitors who could challenge her for the jumps she attempts.
An interesting part of these championships will be the presence of Kiira Korpi, returning to the international scene after two years of injuries. She has competed at the Finnish Nationals earlier this season, where she showed a two pretty solid skates. Her class and maturity are unmatched, but her technical content is definetly watered down compared to the others and therefore it would be difficult for her to aspire to a medal finish. However she will be just a pleasure to watch.

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